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How to Use Your iPad as a Second Monitor

Boost your productivity by using iPad as a second monitor with your Mac or Windows PC/laptop.

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How to Use Your iPad as a Second Monitor

Using your iPad as a secondary monitor can boost your productivity by providing extra screen real estate for multitasking. Windows users can use the paid app “Duet Display” to enable second-screen functionality for iPads while Mac users can use the built-in Sidecar functionality to use their iPad as a second screen. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps on how to use your iPad as a second monitor for both Mac and Windows computers. 

How To Use Your iPad as a second monitor with Mac

Sidecar allows you to use your iPad as a second display for your Mac desktop, either as an extension or a mirror. 

Step 1: Understanding Sidecar

Apple introduced a feature called Sidecar in the macOS Catalina (10.15) and later versions. It is intended to improve the efficiency and ease of use of Mac computers. Through Sidecar, users can expand their Mac’s screen onto their iPad without interruption. This allows you to use your iPad as a second display, simplifying the management of multiple windows and applications at the same time.

Sidecar is a feature that allows you to mirror your Mac’s screen on your iPad, which is useful for sharing content and making presentations. If your Mac has a Touch Bar, Sidecar can duplicate its functions on the iPad. It also supports Apple Pencil, making it a valuable tool for creative professionals who need to draw or design graphics.

Although it can be used wirelessly, it is recommended to connect your iPad to your Mac via USB-C or Lightning cable to keep it charged during long working hours.

Step 2: Sidecar System Requirements

Before moving ahead, check if your iPad and Mac meet Sidecar system requirements. Sidecar is supported on certain Mac models and iPad models. Ensure that your devices are compatible by referring to the list below.

OS: macOS Catalina or later

  • MacBook Pro  in 2016 or later
  • MacBook  in 2016 or later
  • MacBook Air 2018 or later
  • iMac 2017 or later, or iMac (Late 2015)
  • iMac Pro
  • Mac mini 2018 or later
  • Mac Pro 2019 or later
  • Mac Studio 2022 or later

OS: iPadOS 13 or later

  • iPad Pro (all models)
  • iPad (6th gen or later) 
  • iPad mini (5th gen or later) 
  • iPad Air (3rd gen or later)

In addition, both your Mac and iPad must have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth turned on to establish a connection. Now that you understand what Sidecar is and have checked your system requirements, let’s move on to the setup process.

How to use iPad as a second monitor

Step 3: Connect your iPad and Mac

  1. Check Compatibility: From the list above, check that your iPad and MacBook are compatible with Sidecar. 
  2. Sign in with the Same Apple ID: Check that your MacBook and iPad are signed in with the same Apple ID. This is important for Sidecar to work.
  3. Enable Bluetooth and Connect to Wi-Fi: On both your MacBook and iPad, turn on Bluetooth and connect to the same Wi-Fi network. 
  4. Configure Handoff on Your iPad: Open the Settings app on your iPad, and under General, tap on “Handoff.” Make sure Handoff is enabled. This feature allows for smoother communication between your devices.
  5. Enable Screen Mirroring on Your MacBook: On your MacBook, go to the top-right corner of the screen. Click on the Control Center icon (it looks like a square with an arrow pointing up). From there, find and enable “Screen Mirroring.” Your iPad should appear in the list of available devices.
  6. Select Display Mode: Once your iPad is connected, you’ll have the option to choose how you want to use it as a monitor. You can either extend your MacBook’s display (which gives you extra screen real estate) or mirror the MacBook’s screen on your iPad (where both screens show the same content). Choose the option that suits your needs.
  7. Arrange Display Settings (Optional): If you want to position your iPad on a specific side of your MacBook (top, left, or right), you can customize this arrangement. Go to the display settings on your MacBook under “Settings,” and arrange the iPad’s position according to your preference.
  8. Make Most of Your Portable External Monitor: That’s it! Your iPad is now functioning as an external monitor for your Mac. You can use it just like any other monitor, making it a versatile and portable addition to your workflow.

How to use Sidecar on macOS and iPadOS

By following this guide, you can easily set up and use your iPad as a second monitor for your Mac using the Sidecar feature, enhancing your productivity and multitasking capabilities.

Moving a Mac Window to Your iPad

To move a Mac window to your iPad screen, click and hold the window’s green “maximize” button, and then choose the option “move to iPad” from the options. To return a window to your Mac, hover your cursor over the full-screen option and select “Move Window Back to Mac.”

move windows on mac to ipad

If you want to display your Mac screen on your iPad instead of extending your desktop, you can use mirroring. The steps to do this vary depending on your version of macOS. 

  • In macOS Monterey or later, select a mirroring option from the Screen Mirroring menu in the menu bar. 
  • In macOS Big Sur, choose a mirroring option from the Display menu in the Control Center or the menu bar. 
  • For macOS Catalina, select a mirroring option from the AirPlay menu in the menu bar.

Using the Sidebar

The sidebar on your iPad screen provides commonly used Mac controls, including Command and Shift keys, allowing you to choose essential commands using your finger or Apple Pencil instead of a keyboard.

using sidebar on ipad

Multi-Touch Gestures

Sidecar supports various Multi-Touch gestures for navigation:

Here are some helpful gestures to use on your device:

  • To scroll, swipe with two fingers.
  • To copy, pinch in with three fingers.
  • To cut, pinch in with three fingers twice.
  • To paste, pinch out with three fingers.
  • To undo, swipe left with three fingers or double-tap with three fingers.
  • To redo, swipe right with three fingers.

Using Apple Pencil

Your Apple Pencil can be used for pointing, clicking, selecting, drawing, editing photos, and more on your iPad while it’s extending or mirroring your Mac display. You can also enable double-tap actions in settings for supported apps.

Using the Touch Bar

Even if your Mac doesn’t have a Touch Bar, Sidecar provides a virtual Touch Bar on your iPad screen. You can tap its controls with your finger or Apple Pencil. If it doesn’t appear, adjust the settings:

  • macOS Ventura or later: Go to “Apple menu > System Settings,” click “Desktop & Dock,” and turn on “Displays have separate Spaces.”
  • Earlier macOS versions: Go to “Apple menu > System Preferences,” click “Mission Control,” and ensure “Displays have separate Spaces” is selected.

Using a Keyboard, Mouse, or Trackpad

While using Sidecar, you have the option to type with a keyboard connected to your Mac or an iPad keyboard such as the Smart Keyboard or Magic Keyboard for iPad. To navigate and select items, you can use a mouse or trackpad connected to your Mac or an Apple Pencil on your iPad.

Using iPad Apps

When you use your iPad as a display, you can still access and interact with iPad apps. Your Sidecar session will pause and resume when you switch back to the app.

Changing Sidecar Settings

To adjust Sidecar settings:

  • macOS Ventura or later: Go to “Apple menu > System Settings,” click “Displays” in the sidebar, then click your iPad at the top of the window.
  • macOS Monterey: Go to “Apple menu > System Preferences,” then click “Displays.” Click “Display Settings,” and select your iPad in the sidebar.
  • Earlier macOS versions: Go to “Apple menu > System Preferences,” then click “Sidecar.”

In the settings, you can customize the sidebar, and Touch Bar placement, and enable double-tap actions for Apple Pencil (2nd generation).

Reference Mode on iPad Pro and Menu Bar Shortcut

  • Reference Mode (iPad Pro): You can enable Reference Mode on your iPad Pro by going to “Apple menu > System Settings,” clicking “Control Center” in the sidebar, and choosing an option from the Screen Mirroring menu.
  • Menu Bar Shortcut: To quickly access Sidecar options, go to “Apple menu > System Preferences > Displays,” and select “Show mirroring options in the menu bar when available.”

How To use iPad as a second monitor with Windows

Follow the steps below to use your iPad as a second monitor with Windows PC.

  1. On your iPad, open the App Store, and search for Duet Display. Download and install the app. Please note that Duet Display is a subscription-based paid app that costs around $24/month.
  2. Once you have downloaded the Duet app on your iPad, go ahead and install it on your Windows PC or laptop as well. Follow the installation instructions provided on the screen and complete the setup.
  3. Now, connect your iPad to your Windows PC or laptop via lightning or USB-C cable and open the Duet Display app on both the devices. It should recognize your iPad, and your desktop will now be extended across both displays.
  4. You can adjust the quality settings on the Duet companion app on your Windows PC or laptop to improve graphics and refresh rates. To disconnect the display, simply close the Duet app on your iPad. You’re all done!

10 tips to use iPad as a second monitor

Now that you’ve successfully transformed your iPad into a second monitor, let’s explore some tips and tricks to maximize your productivity and make the most of this extended screen space.

Organize Your Workspace

Having a second monitor means more screen real estate to work with. Take advantage of this by organizing your workspace effectively. Here are some suggestions:

  • Important Tasks on Main Screen: Keep your primary tasks on your main computer screen while using your iPad for secondary tasks, such as email, chat, or reference materials.
  • Drag and Drop: Easily move windows between your computer screen and iPad by dragging and dropping. This can streamline your workflow.
  • Utilize Full-Screen Mode: Certain applications and tasks benefit from full-screen mode. Consider using your iPad for applications that require dedicated screen space.

Control Display Settings

Depending on your requirements, you can customize your display settings for optimal performance.

  • Resolution and Frame Rate: Adjust the resolution and frame rate in the Duet Display app to find the right balance between image quality and performance.
  • Brightness and Color: Ensure that both your computer monitor and iPad have matching brightness and color settings for a seamless visual experience.

Touch Gestures (iPad Only)

Your iPad’s touchscreen can be a handy addition to your setup. Here’s how you can make the most of it:

  • Touch and Tap: Use touch gestures on your iPad screen to interact with apps, websites, and documents. Tap to click, swipe to scroll, and pinch to zoom.
  • Virtual Keyboard: The iPad’s virtual keyboard can be used for quick text input, reducing the need to switch between physical keyboards.
  • Apple Pencil: If you have an Apple Pencil, it can be used as a tool for drawing, annotating documents, or taking notes on your iPad screen.

Checking App Compatibility

Not all applications are optimized for dual-monitor setups. Here’s what you can do to make sure your apps work well with your iPad as a second monitor:

  • Check App Compatibility: Verify that the applications you use support dual monitors. Many productivity and creative apps, such as Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Suite, and video editing software, work seamlessly with dual displays.
  • Customize Window Placement: Some apps might not automatically use the extended screen space. In such cases, manually adjust the window placement to take advantage of both screens.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Using keyboard shortcuts can significantly boost your productivity when working with dual monitors:

  • Learn macOS/Windows Shortcuts: Learn keyboard shortcuts specific to your operating system. For example, on macOS, press Control + Arrow to switch between desktops, and on Windows, use Win + Arrow to snap windows to different sides of the screen.
  • Third-Party Tools: Consider using third-party applications like Magnet for macOS or AquaSnap for Windows to enhance window management with keyboard shortcuts.

Ergonomics and Comfort

Maintaining a comfortable and ergonomic workspace is essential when working with multiple screens:

  • Screen Alignment: Ensure that your iPad is aligned with your main screen at eye level. This prevents neck strain from looking up or down.
  • Monitor Mounts and Stands: Invest in monitor mounts or stands that can hold your iPad at the ideal height and angle.
  • Workspace Lighting: Proper lighting is crucial for minimizing eye strain. Adjust the lighting in your workspace to reduce glare and reflections on both screens.

Regular Software Updates

Keep your Mac, PC, and iPad up to date with the latest software updates. Manufacturers often release updates that improve compatibility, performance, and security. Staying updated ensures a smoother experience when using your iPad as a second monitor.

Backup and Security

Remember to include your iPad in your regular backup routines, just like you would with your computer. Additionally, if you use your iPad for work-related tasks, consider implementing security measures like strong passcodes or biometric authentication to protect sensitive data.


We hope this guide helps you in learning how to use your iPad as a second monitor. Turning your iPad into a second monitor is a great way to boost productivity. By following the steps outlined in this guide and using the tips and tricks, you can create a dual-screen workspace with ease.

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